This year, we turned Startup Weekend into a tech festival in Gaza! We preceded Startup Weekend Gaza 4 with “Meet the Gazans,” the first ever TEDx-like event in Gaza.
Since we had 8 international startup geeks coming, we figured it wouldn’t hurt to put them on a stage and have them share their expertise. We thought maybe some people would be interested in hearing them talk about their experiences.
Ha! Some people? The room was packed. Held at the beautiful French Institute in Gaza, both the ground floor and the balcony level were packed with young folks and business people eager to learn about global tech trends.
Nina spoke about how to pitch to the press. Taylor spoke about why you should not want to get investment for your startup… and how he assesses startups before investing in them. Asim gave an incredible talk on demystifying design – user experience for the modern web. Magnus wowed the audience with information about tech trends in Africa. Justin moved everyone with very real advice regarding the emotional challenges of being an entrepreneur – the ones that lead most startups to succeed or fail. Wiktor gave tips on staying connected to the global startup community even when you can’t travel. Glen gave the first ever lecture in Gaza on the Lean Startup model.
My favorite part of the event was when Haitham Abu Shaaban of Wataniya told the audience, “You know, if this were in the United States, you’d be taking notes. I see some of you tweeting, but I don’t see anyone seriously writing down notes.” In Gaza, women and men often sit in separate parts of the room. Immediately after Haitham’s comment, 10 people in the women’s section of the room raised their notepads into the air to show they were furiously writing down everything they were learning! (I didn’t see any men raise their notepads. What’s up with that?)
Everyone who came to Gaza: Thanks so much for coming to see us yourself. Please go tell the world what Gaza is actually like… and come back soon. We’re hungry for mentorship and a connection to global tech trends.
– by Iliana Montauk for the Startup Weekend Organizing Commitee